Albus Somethingorother, newest recruit of the Iron Wolves, had been tasked with the onerous job of seeking out new members for the masterless mercenary company. Armed with promises of steady pay, a life on the road and the ability to fly under the radar of anyone who might be paying unwanted attention, he was able to entice traveling troubadour and thief Malika into trying out for her newest role: Mercenary.
Their first mission seemed easy: Track down some kobolds who had stolen supplies from the Wolves and regain the supplies. In addition, Albus was told to track down one item in particular, at all costs: An small chest of elven make, held fast with a dwarven lock. There was one caveat, however: Under no condition was he to mention anything pertaining to the Emperor or the Empire while in possession of the box.
Albus and Mal managed to track the kobolds to an old abandoned trade fort which they had made into their new dwelling. By impersonating agents of the Blue, they were able to fast-talk their way into the fort, where they discovered that not only did the kobolds possess a white dragon hatchling, they also had an as-yet unhatched egg. They convinced the kobold shaman-chieftain that they knew the secrets to hatching the egg into a strong, healthy dragon, but that they would have to take the egg with them. The shaman-chieftain quickly agreed and sent along his two greatest warriors as escorts.
Out in the woods, they told the kobold warriors that the best way to ensure a healthy hatchling involved blood sacrifice, which, combined with Mal’s befuddling spell, turned the situation into a brawl. One kobold was rendered unconscious while the other fled. They tied the unconscious kobold to a tree, hid the egg, and made their way back to the fort.
Upon arrival, they discovered that the returned kobold had been offered as tribute and lunch to the healthy hatchling. The kobolds made Albus and Mal feel at home tucking them away in a dark room filled with trash and bedding. They even went so far as to provide a bucket of clean water and a bucket for their waste. After an hour or so, Albus and Mal realized that they weren’t actually being held captive and decided to explore.
Mal ventured around the grounds, getting to know the kobolds and their culture, and even convincing them to make her an honorary member of their tribe. Meanwhile, Albus was sneaking around the Shaman-chief’s quarters looking for their loot. Upon the discovery of a strange man, half-flesh, half-clockwork, Albus came to the conclusion that there was no way out without a fight. So he activated the strange man and came out swinging. After a brief battle, the kobolds surrendered and allowed Albus, Malika and their new companion, Tobel, to leave… Which they did, albeit with a fair amount of loot and a stolen wagon. They made a brief stop in the woods to grab their new dragon egg and to check on the unconscious kobold, who, after realizing he might as well be dead to his tribe, essentially became their minion.
Back at the Iron Wolves’ caravan, Kragen, the caravan’s master, congratulated them on a job well done. He was putting away the elven box when Albus said the fateful words “And I didn’t even mention the Emperor!” A malicious, childlike laugh tittered through the wagon as the captive Redcap sprung from his wooden prison. A short melee ensued, which ended only when Albus was able to snatch the cap off the head of the Redcap, which he was then able to use to coerce him back into his prison.
The next day, the three new recruits were told that they’d need to secure the funds for their own wagon and horses, and also, they’d need to suss out how to take care of a dragon egg if they were going to keep it. Luckily, the last part was easily solved, as Tobel revealed that he was built to take care of the magical menagerie of the Archmage of a previous age. Putting his ancient skills and knowledge to use, he was able to provide a rough timetable. Without magical means of accelerating or delaying the egg’s maturation, they’d have around a month before it hatches.
All the same, they still needed wagon funds, so they turned to some stolen maps that Albus had acquired. Maps detailing some kobold warrens and the nearby city of Glitterhagen didn’t spark their interest, but the one of a nearby religious/military installation did. They badgered Digdig, their kobold minion, for information. It took some effort, but he eventually gave them enough to let them pinpoint the location within a couple miles. They also knew to prepare themselves for possible lizardmen, orcs and other kobolds.
While the lizardmen and orcs were nowhere to be seen, a small band of orcs did get the jump on the party. Their priest cast a shaking, bone-rattling curse before being dispatched. Despite some heavy blows, the other two orcs fell shortly after. Nearby, their camp held the body of several of the Crusader’s men, giving the party the means they would need to infiltrate their targeted location.
Toward the end of their second day of travel, Tobel realized that the party was being followed by a strange, spider-riding figure. They managed to make their way to a clearing and pretended to set up camp to lure out their stalker, who turned out to be a lone drow in the company of several large spiders. The fight was brutal, but the party prevailed, availing themselves of the deceased’s (Bhinfrynlin of House Ghym’ar’Rylin, for what it’s worth) gear and familiar. Following the hard-fought victory, they took a much deserved rest before finishing the march toward the keep.
After some reconnaissance, the party managed to bluff it’s way into the ranks of the force occupying the fort. There, they learned the full-scope of the recent goings-on: The orcs have recently moved in from the Bitterwood to the northeast. In doing so, they raided a mausoleum overseen by a white dragon, dealing vicious wounds to the dragon and absconding with many grave relics, which they have since used to combat the Crusader’s men and harass the local area. This has led the Crusader’s men into an alliance with a nearby kobold enclave in an attempt to gain war machines that will give them the upper hand. As yet, they’ve made little progress, as they can’t locate the exact location of the orcs’ lair. This, of course, became their first mission: locate the orcs so that plans can be made to exterminate them. Only then can the fort return to their original goal of brutal inquisition.
After their briefing, the party was given a brief tour of the grounds, including the Wine Cellar, the nickname given to the extensive underground network beneath the fort. This area not only includes the armory and an entrance to some ancient and surely abandoned sewers, but also dozens of holding cells and a well-used torture chamber that the master of the keep refers to as The Library. Several of the cells are stocked with various prisoners, including but not limited to: a cambion assassin, a wasting tiefling, a bruised and battered drow warrior, a chuul, and the fort’s cook.
With their tour complete, the party found an unobserved corner and went to work on hatching a plan to rid the fort of it’s valuables… and possibly a few of its prisoners.